Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler

I've never read any books by Anne Tyler, but she seems like one of those authors I "should" read, so I picked up this (smallish) novel by her.

Now, maybe I was in too good a mood, maybe I wanted something lighter for the holidays, but I found this book dark and depressing, with no real direction, and certainly no satisfying conclusion.

I won't argue that Tyler's writing is very compelling, but what ugly characters in an ugly world. It's going to take me some time to pick up another Tyler novel and give her another try...

Lifting the Covers by Alan Mills

My mother has always been a tennis fan, but even more so, a Wimbledon fan. I spent two weeks of every summer watching tennis from the fabled lawns of Wimbledon, and even attended one summer myself. Needless to say, I was interested in this autobiography from Mills, who was the referee (ie Head Dude) at Wimbledon for two decades.

Mills has lots of interesting antecdotes and insights on all the players who crossed his paths, and tells lots of "behind the scenes" stories, and explains a bit more about his job. Two sets of photos are included in the bio, and I loved flipping to them while reading about his various tales, trials and tribulations. We have no idea what has to happen to make Wimbledon happen flawlessly every summer...or just how much the rain challenges his job!

A fascinating story, and I'm now sorrier than before that Mills has decided to retire...


Charmed and Dangerous by Candace Havens

The blurb on the back sounded interesting and chick-lit-like...a witch who is hired by people like the British Prime Minister to protect him and save the much fun is that?!

At first, I wasn't crazy about the character - she was a bit harsh and full of herself to me, but as the story went on, I warmed up to her a bit. The magics were fun and told very matter-of-factly, and I was left guessing as to which man she was going to choose in the end. Lots of globe trotting, lots of money, lots of men, and lots of evildoing round out this title.

A really quick read, though it took me some time to jump into it, but overall, I enjoyed it!

Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta

This has been on my TBR list since it was released, as it was written by a 21-year-old student at IU-Bloomington (represent!).

I have to say, I was impressed...I'm not much of a mystery reader myself, but this was fast moving, filled with interesting characters, and had lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the end. I'm curious as to whether Koryta plans to continue the two main characters as part of a serious, or will turn to something else next time.

Good suspense, good writing, good read - recommended!

A Little Love Story by Roland Merullo

From the title, and the description of the book, this novel could have easily gone the way of the Nicholas Sparks-y, campy, saccharine sweet type of book.

Instead, it's an amazingly written, haunting book. Jake and Janet meet, and despite their awkward first date, form a bond...and what follows is an amazing portrayal of the relationship of two people. of them "isn't exactly a good long term prospect".

Filled with sarcasm and humor, great supporting characters and a wonderful leading man, I absolutely adored this book.

Highly recommended!

Quote of the Day:

"Can someone explain to me why we're taking a cake stand into the wilderness?"

Another sure sign I'm going to hell (where I'll be among friends and Starbucks, according to madame_r):

At our pitch-in lunch today, we were discussing the upcoming holiday, and Becca posed the question about the presence of the three wise men during Jesus' first days.

We surmised they were quite a bit delayed, thus making our holiday pictorials a bit inaccurate.

Becca: "Even though the three wise men make a nativity scene pretty and complete, it's not accurate."


Me: "Well, sure, but you could always park a 1985 DeLorean next to the manger, and it would work fine."

*snorts of laughter*

It's a good day when...

*You get to exchange prezzies with work friends

*You get a call from a colleague at 7:30am like this: "I'm going to you want a chai?"

*You have your first board meeting behind you

*You get a sweet email from your favorite crew chief

*There's loads of food in the staff lounge for the pitch-in

*You get Christmas cards from patrons thanking the library for everything

*You get to go home and not come back for two weeks in a few short hours!

A good day...

The Summer of Ordinary Ways by Nicole Lea Helget

This memoir chronicles the formative years of Nicole, as she grew up on a farm in Minnesota. In my mind, I was picturing A Girl Named Zippy or a David Sedaris memoir, but this is much darker, uglier.

An abusive father, the facts of farm life, and a writing style that doesn't evoke warmth, though it does evoke emotion. I didn't *like* this book, but it was like a car can't look away.

Not my thing...

Oh, Christmas TreeToday is my last day of work before the Christmas break, and it can't come soon enough!

Two blissful weeks lay ahead...I don't return to work until January 4th.

I'm really looking forward to the holidays with the fam this mother has always dreamed of having Christmas in a cozy cabin in Brown County, but we've never acted on it. Christmas has always been at the old homestead, steeped in tradition.

Traditional things got thrown out the window this year. In celebration of my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, as well as Mum finishing all her chemo and radition to treat her breast cancer, the "kids" decided to splurge and rent a cabin from the 23rd-26th.

To say I'm excited would be an understatement. ;-)

I plan to just sit and stare at nature (a commodity I sometimes miss in TinyTown), read copiously, eat, cook, sleep in, open presents, and bask in the glow of family.

We'll probably drive each other nuts within days, but never mind. ;-)

If that happens, I'll just play a game of pool, hop into the hot tub, or surf the 150 channels on the satellite.

This cabin is fully loaded: the Priddis clan does not rough it.

In any case, I'm counting the minutes and seconds until I can head home for our unique 2005 Christmas celebration. I promise plenty of pictures, book reviews and stories when I return!

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!

Train in TinyTown

Sometimes, in TinyTown, you don't go anywhere in a hurry.

In the span of two hours, I got stopped by three different trains, in three totally different places.

Good thing I had some tunes in the car and no urge to be anywhere fast...

I Remember Running: The Year I Got Everything I Ever Wanted - and ALS by Darcy Wakefield

I've passed this title numerous times on our biography shelf, and finally picked it up and read a few pages. What an amazing story!

Darcy was vegetarian, fit, athletic and only in her early 30s when she was diagnosed with ALS - also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

This book chronicles the months of her life between diagnosis to the birth of her little boy, in which she meets a man, marries, gets pregnant, buys a house and gives birth, all while battling her debilitating disease.

An inspiring tale from a talented writer.

CIMG1264I've never done a holiday cookie exchange.

It seems like a really Martha Stewart thing to host, but I'm hardly Martha.

Oh, I've heard tales of great cookie capers, and they always looked fun, so Becca and I decided to team up for some cookie creatin' this year.

A dozen recipes...

hundreds of cookies...

a lot of mixing bowls...

taken up table space...

But success!

We had a great time listening to music, entertaining guests, and cooking until the thought of another cookie sickened us...but we finished!
Mayhaps a new holiday tradition...

(see all the photos here)

CIMG1250Last week, we had the last of our "Musical Monday" performances at the Alexandrian Public Library.

Throughout the year, we've hosted a string quartet, a jazz band, and a Celtic music band (in March, of course!), and they all played inside the library to rousing applause and lots of smiles.

Of course, to finish out the year, we wanted to end with some great holiday Christmas carols.

The group ranged in age from about 25 to a 90 year old lady, who regaled the crowd with a few jokes and smiles.
It was a great way to spend an evening working!

Plus, apple cider at the reference desk. Nice. :-)

Do any other libraries host musical performances among the stacks? I know Michael Casey posted some photos...any others?

Gabriel's Angel by Nora Roberts

This was the second "Christmas book" recommendation from my friend one dies, no one has a wasting disease, and no one is suicidal, which were my criteria for reading a Christmas book. ;-)

Laura is pregnant, alone and on the run when her car slides on an icy roadway and into the life of artist Gabriel Bradley. What follows is a whirlwind romance with a touch of suspense, written in Roberts' trademark easy-to-read style.

Though not exactly a "Christmas" book, it is smaller than Roberts' normal novels, and is quick to read.

Live What You Love: Notes From an Unusual Life by Bob and Melinda Blanchard

This book is supposed to be cutesy and inspirational, but mostly it just made me jealous and sad.

Filled with short stories and antecdotes, the Blanchards discuss the choices they've made in life, how they got through the tough times, and the struggles to...get this, build a hotel to go along with their fabulously popular restaurant on the beach in Anguilla.

I'd like to live in the Carribean, but I don't make that kind of dough, nor do the Blanchards really explain where the thousands and thousands they need come from.

Like I said, inspirational but depressing. ;-)

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

I've never really read "Christmas books", but my friend Mary is addicted, so I asked her for a recommendation in which no one dies, no one has a wasting disease and it's not depressing as hell.

She recommended this slim novel, based on a true story.

The Evans are down on their luck, and move into a mansion to care for an elderly woman, who requires cooking and cleaning in exchange for free room and board. She actually wants companionship more than cleaning, and they form a strong bond.

Rich find a "Christmas Box", and through his elderly friend, learns the true meaning of Christmas.

It was short, sappy, but put me in the Christmas spirit for a little while. :-)

I'm off to get another Christmas-y recommendation...

Gone With the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson

This is the latest entry in the "nerd" series, and though Thompson has a formula she repeats, it still works.

Zoe is a famous movie star, and Flynn is a nerdy lawyer. When Zoe needs to learn how to be a nerd for a starring role, she grabs Flynn and hides away to rehearse the script.

Of course, a deserted cabin, Bigfoot, a couple of mysterious happenings, as well as a lot of sex tend to sully the script reading plan. ;-)

A fun, sexy romp with a couple of mysteries rolled in to keep the pages turning. Fun, fun!

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

After reading Buffalo Soldier earlier this year, I was curious to read other works by Bohjalian, and this novel came highly recommended.

Sibyl Danforth is a wife, mother, hippie, and accomplished midwife. So what happened on a bitterly cold day in Vermont when a labour goes wrong, a cesarean is performed, a baby lives...and the mother dies?

What follows is a detailed and harrowing account of the life and trial of Sibyl, as told from the point of view of Connie, her fourteen year old daughter. Connie is a wonderful narrator, and Bohjalian weaves in different points of view, diary entries and flashbacks to tell the story.

A wonderfully written, engrossing novel. Recommended!

Beyond the Blonde by Kathleen Flynn-Hui

This is just pure escapist fun!

This novel felt very much like The Nanny Diaries or Devil Wears's a peek into a world I'll never be a part of, and into the lives of the overly rich, overly spoiled and overly coiffed. ;-)

Georgia Watkins is the best hair colorist at Salon Jean-Luc, and this quick novel details her small town roots, her struggle to "make it" in hair, her loves and her decision to leave Jean-Luc behind.

I tore through this book in a few was just what I needed for a quick, fun read. :-)

Though, it did make me wonder about my own hair colour...

Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My friend Becca is a big fan of this author, so I was pleased to grab this audiobook and pop it into my car for all my recent holiday travels!

Annabelle Granger runs a matchmaking service...not the best, not the worst, but her make or break client is one Heath Champion. Will she find his perfect match, will she fail miserably, or will she end up falling for the man himself?

Guess. ;-)

Phillips is a fast and feisty author, and I enjoyed all the characters and situations throughout the book. The book is by turns funny, sexy, and horrifying, but always with heart. This is pure chick lit, and fun "comfort reading" on those cold drives!


Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Anna Fields. It took me some time to get used to the voice, but then I enjoyed it. Her male characters are a bit tough to get on board with, but her female voices are great!

The latest and greatest links to hit my Bloglines account this week...

Marissa and SantaIt just isn't Christmas until you get to sit on Santa's lap. ;-)

Santa paid a visit to children at APL during one of our holiday programs, and he's always a big hit.

Of course, though I haven't been a kid for a few years now, I never miss an opportunity to tell Santa what I want for Christmas...

Things They Never Told Me in Library Science School Would Happen at a Public Library, #58:

That I'd have to wake up at 5am and maniacally watch weather coverage to decide whether or not to close the library, after having closed early the night before.

Also, that I would impose a two hour delay for staff members to arrive, and then find myself stuck in the snow and unable to get to work without hitching a ride.

Also, that organizing an impromptu staff pizza party during said icy weather would be the best thing I did all day.

Also, that I would have to promise the boiler repairman brownies for working late two days in a row to make sure the library temperature didn't drop below freezing. I did, he did, and the boiler is fixed and running.


Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich

It was really weird to READ this title in the Stephanie Plum series.

I'm addicted to the audio version of this series, narrated by C.J.Critt, but this latest title still hasn't been released. *sob*

However, as I read this book, I swear I heard C.J.'s voice in my head narrating the characters. :-)

Stephanie has had enough - she's quitting the bounty hunting business. Naturally, what follows are attempts on her life, destruction of her car, a series of new jobs, and lots of back and forth with Ranger and Joe.

Also, she's quitting doughnuts. Seriously.

This latest entry is hilarious and different - less apprehensions of side characters, and more focus on Stephanie herself. Funny, sexy, fast and well worth reading!

The Mediator: Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot

This is number four in the Mediator series, and I think it was my favorite so far! It's summer in California, and Susannah has to deal with a summer job, a new mediator, a ghost who's trying to kill her, pleated shorts and of course, Jesse.

Fast and funny and with a brand new exploration of the meaning "mediator", I really enjoyed this YA book by Cabot. A great series, and a great addition to it!

Shattered Mirror by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

A YA novel about vampiric brothers, high school love and a witch - what's not to love, right?

Sarah finds herself falling for Christopher, a vampire who attends her school, despite her calling as a vampire killer. What follows is a twisty story about how she copes, how she hunts, and what happens to the couple.

I like the story okay, though Sarah is written as a very harsh, not terribly "rah rah" worthy character, and the ending actually left me pretty cold. I'm not sure if this is the beginning of a series, but from the way it ended, I would assume so.

Not as great as I expected, but a flying fast read. With vampires. :-)

Be More Chill by Ned Vizzini

I really loved Vizzini's first foray into YA writing, so I was looking forward to his new book, especially after our YA librarian put a "squip" sticker on her car. ;-)

Jeremy Heere is not cool, but man, he wants to be. He finds out from a friend about getting a "squip" - a supercomputer chip that comes in pill form. You take the pill, the chip goes into your brain, and it instructs you how to be cool.

Also, the voice you hear in your head is Keanu Reeves. How damn funny is that??

What follows is horrifying and hilarious, raw and sooo true of high school. I read this quick YA novel in a night, and think Vizzini is a talented, funny guy.


Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

What's the perfect way to offset the sudden cold descending on Indiana? Read this book!

What a wonderful travel memoir...Ann and her husband Steve took two years out of "real life" to sail from Toronto to the Carribean, with various stops along the way. I loved reading about their sailing adventures, their various stops, and all the recipes Ann tried along the way.

I was particularly interested in the passages about Trinidad, since my grandparents lived there for years and years - also, for the recipe for Callaloo, my mother's specialty. ;-)

I'm going to absolutely recommend this book to my sister and bro-in-law...they are big boaters and Carribean-lovers, and I'm going to recommend this to my parents, as a trip down memory lane.


Jiffy Pop BillboardThe other morning, I slogged out to my car and started driving to work, extra-strong coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

Nothing was going to make me smile this morning, unless it meant getting to go back to bed for a long winter's nap.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw this in the middle of town.

Nothing like a ginormous photo of Super G (Jeff Gordon) on a billboard to make me smile the rest of the way to work. :-)

One of our most popular displays every year in Adult Services is our "staff picks". We put it up at near the end of the year, and keep it up through the holidays. It's always empty by the time we change displays.

CIMG1146This year, we asked everyone on staff to contribute a book or two to a center display...

Geez, looking at this you'd think a) we like to read b) we are really indecisive c) we REALLY want people to take our suggestions.

I love it. :-)

Hey hey, Hoosier librarians!

I was recently appointed Associate Editor of Indiana Libraries, our scholarly library journal for the state of Indiana (bows to all the applause).

As such, I'm part of the group that receives, edits and prepares for publication all the articles in the issue (including my own regular column). However, I'm also in charge of finding willing victims to publish in the journal!

This is where all of you who might be reading this come in.

Publication in IL is a great resume builder, it's fun to see your name in print, and it's an opportunity to tell other librarians what cool ideas you have!

The deadline for our next issue is February 15, but we have other upcoming issues as well. I think this would be a GREAT opportunity for some of those rockin' librarians out there in get in print.

Have you done research on a particular aspect of librarianship? Tell us! Just started an innovative program like gaming at the library? Tell us! Have you implemented a new service for patrons? Tell us!

Drop me a line if you have questions or want to discuss an idea at theloudlibrarian[at] Thanks!

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

As you all know, I absolutely adore Picoult's books, but I try to spread them out in my reading so I can appreciate each one individually (and not run out of her titles too fast!)

This is another stunning novel from one of my favorite writers. This novel focuses on the story of Chris and Emily...destined to be lovers from the moment they were born, now in their teens and still as close as they ever were. Best friends, lovers and confidants, and everyone knows it.

Yet, something in Emily is broken, and she sees only one way out - a promise with Chris to take their own lives.

The gunshot is on the first page, and the rest of the novel jumps from present day to the past, and weaves together the story of these two teenagers, their families, and their future.

A fantastic, absorbing read - highly recommended!